This week’s episode is dedicated just one piece: Beethoven’s “Archduke” trio. This piece was named for the Archduke Randolph, a student and friend of Beethoven’s for many years. But many performers and writers note that the evocative “Archduke” title seems to fit the music. The words “noble” and “grand” crop up frequently in descriptions of the piece, which is an expansive 45 minutes long and contains, according the authoritative “New Grove Dictionary”, one of the most beautiful slow movements Beethoven ever wrote. The premiere performance of the “Archduke” trio, in 1814, also has the unhappy distinction of being Beethoven’s last public appearance as a pianist. Violinist Louis Spohr, who played with Beethoven in the recital, recalled the experience vividly. “In the forte passages,” he wrote, “the poor deaf man pounded on the keys until the strings jangled, and in the piano [or quiet sections] he played so softly that whole groups of notes were omitted.” But Beethoven’s playing may tell us something else about the piece. It is a sweeping, monumental work, and the immense variation Beethoven was aiming for in loud and soft perhaps hints at the vast territory he was trying to cover in this, his last piano trio.
Recorded live in the Tapestry Room of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is pleased to share this concert under a Creative Commons Music Sharing License. For details see www.gardnermuseum.org.
September 30, 2013 Subject:
April 10, 2008 Subject:
Beethoven's Archduke Piano Trio
What a beautiful rendering of this stupendous work by Beethoven! I thought that the musicians played with such momentum and rapport between themselves that the Maestro himself would have commended them highly. I must be one of the world's greatest fans of Beethoven and shall be most proud to own this particular recording from this lovely place.